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Jain Illustrations

Thursday, June 04th, 2009 | Author:

India as a country thrives on beautiful amalgamation of many religions. One of the religions originated in India is Jainism. Started by Mahavir Jain, Jainism has given wonderful things to India. Art and culture is one of them. Talking about art, Jain illustrations go a long way in reinforcing rich heritage of ancient Indian art. It is being said that, Jain illustrations were earliest miniature paintings of India. These illustrations were in existence as early as 11th century. The first proof of the Jainism and art illustrations was found in a book of rituals named Kalpasutra and the Kalkacharya Katha. The later one was the story of the revered teacher Kalka.


Kalkacharya Katha is based on an ancient story that talks about prince Kalka who later on became a monk whereas Kalpasutra was written in 5th century BC by Bhadrabahu. These books were commissioned by Jain merchants who used to present the illustrations to monks. Done on leaves, many of these illustrations still adorn Jain libraries. They are of supreme importance to the Jain devotees.


Few of the surviving illustrations include Savaga-padikkamana-sutta-cunni which belongs to 13th century. Most of the Jain lusutartions used energetic colors and different shades of dyes like silver, red, gold and blue. The sutta-cani is basically a palm leaf manuscript and Pandit Ramachandra is credited with writing this wonderful piece during Mewar region. Total numbers of leaves are 285 but unfortunately quite a few of them are missing. Several miniature paintings of Jina Parsvanatha and goddesses are illustrated in this manuscript. Other notable Jain illustrations are Sangrahini Sutra, Vrijnapritpatras and Uttaradhyayanasutra. The first one was composed during 1th century whereas Uttaradhyayanasutra was illustrated in 15the century but composed as early as 4th A.D century.